Sarah Moon brings painterly fashion and dark fantasy to Fotografiska New York

Sarah Moon brings painterly fashion and dark fantasy to Fotografiska New York

Octogenarian French photographer and filmmaker Sarah Moon shows 30 years of work at Fotografiska New York – spanning fashion and fantasy, mystery and the macabre, it’s dark, painterly and compelling

At 80 years old, the French fashion photographer Sarah Moon is widely considered a living legend. A fashion model in the 1960s, Moon went on to work as a fashion photographer and filmmaker and became renowned for her textural and painterly visual style that imparts her images with an otherworldly atmosphere and intensity. Her work is the subject of ‘Sarah Moon: At the still point’, a comprehensive exhibition at Fotografiska in New York. 

Comprising photographs as well as films and books produced over the last 30 years, the exhibition showcases both Moon’s literary approach to working and her ability create dreamlike visuals, regardless of their destination and medium.

 Fashion 01, Issey Miyake, 1995 © Sarah Moon
Fashion 01, Issey Miyake, 1995 © Sarah Moon

‘Sarah Moon creates her own timeless, unique visual language,’ says Amanda Hajjar, director of exhibitions at Fotografiska New York.

‘She expands outside straight fashion photography to something more conceptual, but we’re still able to recognise it as fashion focused. This unexpectedness keeps us interested and surprised.’

 18 juillet, 1989. The Red Thread © Sarah Moon
18 juillet, 1989. The Red Thread © Sarah Moon

The deep colour tones, abstract shapes and melancholic mood of Moon’s images produce a rich storybook-like quality in her work. The exhibition at Fotografiska New York includes an installation of 46 photographs and six fictional obituaries based around her 2006 film The Red Thread, which draws on the French folk tale Bluebeard (a version of which, by Charles Perrault, was published in 1697). 

The Red Thread, specifically, is very special to Sarah,’ says Hajjar. ‘The actual installation of this work revisits the French fairytale of Bluebeard, which tells the story of a woman who is manipulated into a marriage with a murderous husband. Moon creates a visual narrative inclusive of gravestones of the previously murdered wives of Bluebeard.’

 Julie Stouvenel, 1989. The Red Thread © Sarah Moon
Julie Stouvenel, 1989. The Red Thread © Sarah Moon

Seeing these macabre narrative works alongside Moon’s fashion images facilitates a unique dialogue between the two worlds, blurring the lines between fiction and reality, as well as time and space.

‘Even the most glamorous fashion works of her oeuvre express a darkness, treading a line of fantasy and nightmare,’ Hajjar explains. ‘The painterly quality to the photographs is a device to highlight this ethereal mystery of the work. This draws viewers into Moon’s world and you’re visually captivated by the images in front of you.’ §

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